Monday, April 28, 2008
Greedy has never felt so good, has it? Sunday night, down after two periods, the Stars unleashed their 3rd period attack and overwhelmed the San Jose Sharks in a Game 2 performance that mirrors their Game 2 in Anaheim in so many ways.
Both wins in the Game 2’s were by a 5-2 margin in which the Stars needed a dramatic 3rd period to emerge victorious. Both games required fabulous goal tending from Marty Turco where he could keep them in the game while they weather the storm we all knew was coming. See, that is what makes Game 2 victories more important than Game 1
In Game 2, the home team has played with as much desperation as they can muster, knowing that they cannot afford to lose both games at home to start a series. And yet, the Stars absorb attack after attack, sometimes with gritty skill, and sometimes with just a tad bit of luck – and then they hit back with some opportunistic scoring and, for Dallas, the best players are the best players.
And by the way, Sergei Zubov is back. And he is still really good.
With curiosity as to how everything is going so well right now, here are some notes and observations from a Game 2 win in San Jose that again puts the Stars in the driver’s seat:
• In this playoff run, the Stars have outscored their opponent in the 1st period, 6-5. In the 2nd period, the Stars are actually outscored, 7-5. So, after 2 periods, it is close, 12-11 to the opponents. And then, the 3rd period begins. After the 2nd intermission of the 2008 Dallas Stars playoff run, the Stars have an absurd 17-5 advantage. How are they scoring 17 goals in 8 games after the 2nd intermission? I have no idea. But somehow, it is becoming routine. In Game 6 against Anaheim and Game 2 against San Jose, the Stars trailed after 40 minutes, and yet took the lead after 44 minutes. They are ambushing the opponent early in the 3rd, and as long as that trend continues, the Stars are going to be impossible to defeat. The other part of that stat is 5 goals against in 8 playoff games. Marty has been a brick wall for much of the playoffs, and has to be considered the team MVP to this point.
• How did you like the Mike Ribeiro “Gretzky goal”? We were once told tales of Pierre Turgeon controlling a game from behind the goal line in what was Gretzky’s office, but by the time Turgeon got to Dallas that wasn’t happening. But Ribeiro has performed magic from behind the goal time and time again, and his bank shot off the back of Nabokov was brilliant. And it came at a time where there wasn’t too much offense from the Stars, so imagine the demoralization of the Sharks after he tied the game in the 1st.
• Stu Barnes saved another goal last night. It is a game of inches. If that Jeremy Roenick to Torrey Mitchell chance goes in, it could have been a whole different story. But, Stu denied the Sharks, and then the stage was set.
• I never thought the Stars were going to be given a Power Play last night. But, once it happened, it took the Stars exactly 17 seconds to score the eventual game-winner. Mike Modano passed on a shot opportunity moments before Zubov whirled an amazing, blind pass back to Modano who buried the shot and gave the Stars a lead they would never give back. No other Stars defenseman would ever dream of that pass, let alone execute it. Welcome back, Sergei.
• Do you think that Joe Pavelski lived a roller coaster ride last night? The former Wisconsin great (being a Wisconsin guy, I had to work that in) scored a wonderful deflection goal in the 1st to send the HP Pavilion into delirium, and then inexplicably lost an edge and the puck right to the wrong guy in the 3rd. Brad Richards took the puck, snapped it past Evgeni Nabokov, and erased the deficit in one horrific moment for Pavelski and Sharks fans. Meanwhile, for Stars fans, how great is it to have another guy who knows what to do with a gift? Richards has such a talent-filled arsenal, that if you give him a chance, he will make you pay. For a guy who demonstrated what he could do in his first game in Dallas when he scored 5 points against Chicago, Richards continued to grow his playoff hero legend as he set a Stars record with 4 points in a playoff period. That will work.
• Turco’s stops from in tight have been wonderful in San Jose. Those scrambles require a composed goaltender and a half-serving of luck. Marty has had both composure, and has finally been smiled upon by the hockey gods, too. It is about time he is rewarded for his hard work.
• Jumbo Joe Thornton is amazing. He was all over it last night, and gave the Stars quite a few “hold your breath” moments. I am not sure there is any way to stop him.
• Stars Power Play on the Road in the playoffs? 28.6%. That might explain why they have won 4 of the 5 games on the road.
• Who isn’t happy for Niklas Hagman’s night? After a season where he scored 27 goals, he has taken a dramatically reduced role in the playoffs. Knowing he is a free agent this summer, he could be bitter than his value falls as his ice time drops, but he made the most of his chance last night with Richards and then was given the bonus empty netter. I might disagree with the arena decision to make him the #1 star, but with 2 goals, he has to be smiling this morning.
• After hearing the Sharks were going to raise the physicality, I guess I was expecting more from them. I attribute this to the fact that Anaheim was the most physical team in hockey, and after defeating them, the Stars are ready for anything the Sharks might try with the body. For San Jose to frighten Dallas will have to come from their impressive passing and skating, not some body check.
• Let’s hear it for 29, 9, 14, 26, 10, 2, 3, 6, and 28 for the stellar penalty killing. Without that, the Sharks are up huge in the 2nd intermission. Oh, and #35 is the best penalty killer of them all.
• You know the drill from last series. Let’s all focus on an amazing Tuesday night at the AAC, and remember the Sharks wonderful track record of winning on the road. Also, we should not forget the Ducks 4-0 lead early in Game 3 in Dallas. The Stars could try to put a sword in the Sharks on Tuesday night, or, the very talented Sharks could steamroll right back in with a win. I greatly anticipate where this series is going, but I also am having a hard time believing the Stars swept both games in San Jose. This team is playing really well. Let’s keep it going in Game 3.